PROCEEDINGS HELD AT
24 OCTOBER 1996
[PAGES 1 - 79]
2A/0 PROCEEDINGS RESUMED ON 1996/10/24
APPEARANCES AS BEFORE
CHAIRMAN: ... Fowzia Turner Ciliano, Kim and Jan Turner. Could you tell me, are all four of you going to speak today?
ALL: Yes, we are.
CHAIRMAN: Then, could you all please stand.
OATH ADMINISTERED AT THIS STAGE
CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much, please be seated. Could you give me some indication of who would like to start?
MRS FOWZIA TURNER: I will be starting, Dr Boraine.
CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much, Fowzia, then I welcome you and I will be leading the evidence for the four of you. And would ask you to please start, tell the story in your own words, and know that you are among friends, with nothing to worry about. Thank you. --- I was married to Richard Turner at the time of the assassination. We were married according to Islamic rights, at the home of Fatima and Ismail Meer in Durban, in 1971, a year after we met. It was a very different time, I want to take you back to that time, so you can have some feeling about the climate in which we were living. We were aware in our personal lives how events in the present - can I just start again?
In the 1980s South Africa was in the throes of a radical and irreversible upheaval, one which redefined all political activity that had gone before. We were aware in our personal lives, we are aware how events in the present shape, colour, re-interpret events in the past. So is it with history. Not only do past events provide the
lengths through which we see and interpret the present, but the present special momentous events rolls over the past almost like waves breaking onto the shore, creating new patterns. Many people today don't understand quite what it was we were working through in the late 60s/early 70s.
I want you to let me take you back to the time to that pattern, to those patterns, those institutions, the laws that created the climate in which we lived, and against which we were reacting. This is the time after Rivonia, after the imprisonment, the banning, the house arrest of the 60s. The presence of the apartheid state was pervasive. It did everything it could to ensure its own survival within the framework of its self-defining laws, self-protecting laws. Those who stepped out of line were dealt with swiftly and unequivocally. Leaders were quickly and effectively removed from their areas of influence.
This was the time before mass action. This was the time too of the then infamous and now incomprehensibly silly Excelsior trials, in which various members of the Afrikaner elite were having to defend their furtive transgressions across the colour line.
When Richard and I decided to share our lives, this decision, joyous as it was, was not taken easily. We were all too aware of the consequences of breaking three different laws: the Morality Act, the Group Areas Act, and the Mixed Marriages Act. But we were clear that we would live a life compatible with our beliefs, moral, social and political. We were equally clear that we would not hide, not be part of the furtive immoral
shadows. We would not separate the political from the personal.
Friends of ours, when they learnt that we were going to share our lives, were very worried. They were worried for two reasons (1) that our political activity would be rendered ineffectual because we would be - the police would be looking to imprison us under the Immorality Act; or that because of that we might be tempted to leave the country.
Richard said to this friend that as far as pressure from the police and so on was concerned, it seems to me that we must just do our best to handle situations as they arise. People were worried about the politics of the situation. He said, "It seems to me that one's life should conform to one's beliefs, but not to love one another through fear" would contradict the basic principles that we talked about.
He became a lecturer at the University of Natal in 1970. I met him at the University of Natal, at the Medical School, where he came to talk on black power. He was one of the best minds, one of the most articulate debaters that South Africa has produced. Natal University was privileged to have had him. It was hard to forget conversations held with him, they opened up your world.
As a lecturer he was popular, he was effective, his arguments persuasive. He was also empowering. Walking away from an encounter with him, whether in tutorials, or in a lecture hall, or at student protest meetings, and there were many during those times, you will recall those of you who are as old as I am and older that there was the
/22 - the
22 - the campaign about the 22 detainees and it was the charge or release campaign, and Natal was very much alive during those days, protesting against that.
With him you found the source of your own part make meaningful changes in the world. His teachings helped bring the students down from the hill into the town and into the factories.
He was one of the forces helping the rebirth of the democratic trade union movement. His analysis of the Durban strikes in 1973 brought a new understanding to the press, to the public, and to the business community in particular.
Then came the bannings. We were IN Bolton Hall which was then the centre of Denysson(?) trade union activities in Durban. We were in Bolton Hall with Harriet Bolton and various other people from the university and the trade unions at the time there, when we heard BJ Vorster read out his recommendations from the Schlebusch Commission Report.
The security police were pervasive, they followed us openly to ensure that the banning orders were adhered to. Their groupies harassed us, we were fire-bombed, our cars and the people who lived with us in the house at Dalton Avenue, they were tampered with.
Chief Buthelezi will remember the time when there was a seminar at the Natal University at which Richard was and Lorrie Schlemmer were, they were organizing it. A bunch of flowers arrived for Buthelezi, supposedly from Dr Turner, and luckily somebody had the sense to look through the flowers and there was a bomb in it.
There were many other acts of intimidation that were
visited on us. We discovered - we would wake up in the mornings and find fires lit under the petrol tanks of the cars. Our car had the wheels, the bolts of the wheels undone. It became an expensive life, not because we were living expensively, but we were always having to replace things that were being tampered with, that were being broken, that were being burnt.
For eight years we lived under the State's watchful eyes, and knew our telephone conversations tapped. We suspected that our house was bugged. Ironically, this was confirmed by Colonel Dan Mathee, of the Durban CID, a few days after the murder, when he led me out of the house into the garden and explained that he didn't want to talk inside because the house was bugged by the security police.
We were not, during that time, to lead private lives. There were people we had never met, never spoken to, who could quote back to us conversations we had had with in earnest discussion within the privacy of our bedroom.
In 1977, Richard was granted the Humbolt Scholarship, a prestigious scholarship in Germany, to do research in Germany. Having been effectively cut off from the academic life-stream, it was important for him to re-enter in some way the stream from which he - the milieu that was exceedingly important to him.
It may seem to some people that being banned, being denied to - the opportunity to practise your livelihood, is small compared to the scale of things that have happened, but everybody carries pain differently, every pain is unique. If something is your bloodline and it's
flowing in you and it is stopped, you feel your vitality draining away. He wrote to me when I was away in Europe in 1976, "It is one of these days", the day in which he was writing, "in which the world seems to be too much for me and I can only be an impotent observer of it".
Richard was alive in argument, in debate, in groups of people, and those of you who were there would remember what it felt like to feel that electricity, that liveliness. Over the years people would come to the house, the banning order was very effective, it had cut him off, people would come to the house to talk to him, to ask his opinion, to discuss things. But it wasn't the same as standing at the university, at meetings, talking, being part of the discussion, growing with how things were developing in South Africa.
When the opportunity came for him to go to Germany, to be offered this scholarship, he was very enthusiastic about it. It was a chance. He felt his mind was being stymied. He just didn't know, he didn't feel part of the academic stream.
However, the Minister of the Interior refused him permission to leave South Africa. The terms of his banning order prohibited him from leaving the magisterial district of Durban. He was also denied a South African passport.
His five year banning order was due to expire in March 1978. He was not certain whether his banning order would be renewed. The fact that his application to go to Germany being refused made the likelihood seem very very possible that the banning order would not be lifted, and, in fact, be renewed.
In January 1978 friends of ours from Germany, who were mounting a campaign at the diplomatic level to get the State to rescind its decision so that Richard could travel to Germany, they arrived. They were not granted visas to enter South Africa.
I travelled out to Botswana to meet them, on the morning of the 6th of January, is that right? Yes. We were stopped at the border. I was clearly the focus of their attention. My luggage, such as it was, was searched. I was stripped searched and interrogated about my motives for travelling hence. I remember a lull in the conversation, the interrogation. It stopped. They left the room. There was a loud phone call made to Durban. Obviously there was much laughter, there was much talkings about and comments on whatever was coming back from the Durban end of the conversation. The phone was then put down, we were told we could continue our journey.
We arrived in Gabarone late, very late at night. The first thing I did was to phone Richard and tell him what had happened at the border. That we were safely in Gabarone was a relief to him. We talked openly about who I would being seeing the next day and what he and the children would be doing. We would talk to each other the next time, the day before I was due to leave. I was only meant to be in Gabarone for three days.
On the night of January the 7th, I went to bed. After having had dinner with Jenny Curtis, who was later to be blown up together with her daughter by a bomb sent by Craig Williamson, Jenny Curtis and her husband, Marius Gwynn(?), Jenny dropped me just before midnight at the house of Jan and Ken Zunckel. I got ready for bed, and
then as I lay down to sleep about 40 minutes after, I felt and heard Richard at my side. I was too sleepy to hear what he was saying, but I was much comforted by his voice.
Half an hour later there was an urgent knock at the door. An urgent telephone call had come for me from Durban. There was no telephone in the house in which I was staying, so we had to go where I could find a phone. I tried to phone home, the lines between Durban and Gabarone were down. I then remembered that the exchange from Gabarone to Johannesburg was automatic, so I phoned Elona Kleinschmidt, a friend of ours, in Johannesburg, and asked her please to phone home to find out what was happening.
Half an hour later I heard what had happened, those moments before I heard and felt Richard next to me. I heard Elona's words, I didn't understand them. The world I was ... (inaudible) ... and was unrecognisable. We were all of us, family, friends, no longer ourselves.
The journey back to Durban, there was no - there was then no sign of the security police, it was unreal. Arriving back in Durban was nightmarish.
It was also a time - it was a time of ... (inaudible) ... pain and many ironies: one of which was being addressed as Mrs Turner by the police; being asked to go and identify Richard's body.
That night the feelings, being ... (inaudible) ... as the children will tell you later, never goes away. It stays. There is something we do not understand, we need to know who it was who pulled that trigger. We know that the events of that night at known to the people who watched us. I have said to the commission in my written
statement that we were watched all the time. We know from neighbours that the security police had access through their hedges to what was going on in our house. We know through the police that our house was bugged. Our telephone line was bugged. Everything we did, as I have said, was recorded.
There is information. We need to know who it was? We know the people who were heading the various departments at the time, who would have given permission or if not, if they deny giving permission, was certainly would have been aware what was happening. I would ask the commission to subpoena Colonel van Steenkamp, who was then head of the Durban Security Police; Colonel Stadler, who visited often our house in the middle of the night to shine torches in our faces, to wake us up to make us aware of the fact that he knew what we were doing was not to be tolerated by the State. There were various other security police who we kept bumping into during the daily course of our activities. It became so - during the time, so much so that you would see a face that was familiar and you would smile and then a minute later you think, "Oh, My God, that was a security police person I smiled at". They were just so pervasive, so ever, where you could not distinguish them from people that you knew just as your eyes travelled across a room.
In addition to Colonel Steenkamp and Stadler, there is Andy Taylor. There is MacPherson. And numerous other members of the security police, who visited us, who watched over us, who tapped our conversations, I would ask you to ask - to subpoena them, so that we can know more about what happened that night, so that they can actually
reveal the information they know.
Our lives have been completing invaded by the shadow but pervasive presence and the structured activities of the security police. It is now time for the shadows to be dispelled and the wounds to be dressed. We look to the truth and reconciliation committee as the only means presently available for this to be done.
I would also ask, by way of restitution, for the truth and reconciliation committee to raise a chair of political science in the name of the Richard Turner at Natal University. I would like there to be a chair, Dr Richard Turner chair in political science.
CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Fowzia, very much. It is very difficult talking about things that are so close to you, even though they happened a very long time ago. And we appreciate your courage, thank you.
CHAIRMAN: Perhaps you could indicate who is going to follow on. Okay. Kim.
MS K J TURNER: Do you want me just to start?
CHAIRMAN: Please go right ahead, I am sorry. --- Okay. I was nine and a half years old when my father was killed. Although a lot of time has passed since then, I still find these memories very painful.
You see, we didn't see very much of our father during the last years of his life. Jan and I lived in Cape Town and he was confined to Durban by the banning order, so we only saw him when we went to Durban twice a year during the school holidays.
The last visit began in December 1977. We arrived in Durban on Boxing Day and we were looking forward to a whole two weeks with our father. There was nothing unusual about this trip, except that Durban had one of the wettest summers on record, and halfway through our stay my father's wife, Fowzia, had to make a trip to Botswana. My sister, Jan, and I were quite keen to go with her. Our cousin, Patrick, lived in Gabarone, and we would have loved to have seen him. And on top of that, I had never travelled outside of South Africa before.
But we didn't go. Our recently applied for passports were not ready and Jan and I stayed in Durban with our father.
On the night of January the 7th, we went to bed as usual. Our father always read to us before we went to sleep, but I don't remember what he was reading to us that
night. Our bedroom is at the front of the house, looking out onto a large stoep, and I woke just after midnight on the morning of January, the 8th. The room was quiet and Jan's bed empty. The door to the hallway was open and from the bed I saw what I thought was a large pool of water.
I lay in bed for some time and all kinds of childish scenarios were going through my head. I imagined that my sister had woken up and asked Daddy for some water to drink and then dropped it in the hallway, and that was the pool of water that I saw.
When I finally got and went through to the livingroom, a very different scene confronted me there. My father was lying on the floor, just near the entrance to the kitchen, and there was blood everywhere, too much to see what had happened, or where he was wounded. My father was already unconscious and Jan was desperately trying to revive him. She had roused Cathy Thompson, an American journalist who was living in the cottage at the end of our garden, and Cathy had come to help us.
We were all very frightened that night, unable to comprehend what had happened. I later learnt that Jan had been awake when just after midnight she heard our father go to answer the front door. He had asked, "Who's there?" several times, and when he received no reply, he had walked into our bedroom and drawn back the curtains to look out onto the stoep. It was then that the shot was fired. Jan saw the flash, watched our father fall in the doorway of our room. He then picked himself up and ran into the livingroom, where he fell again. This time he
didn't get up and it was there that I found him a few minutes later.
It was very lonely in that house that night. We all had a sense of being a long way away from everyone. I sat on the chair in front of where my father lay dying. I think I must have been in shock as I sat there, rigid, unable to move, even when my sister begged me to hold my father while she got up to go to the loo. It is hard for me to recall the exact sequence of events that night, but time passed. The phone was dead and we waited for someone to come.
The police arrived over an hour after we had made the one call to them before the phone had stopped working. And it was only when I talked to the ambulance men that I let myself realise what I knew that was true and that my father wasn't going to be all right, and in fact he died some time before.
Over the few days following his death, I managed to rationalize the events of that night. I had always known about his political activities and knew what it meant to live under a banning order.
However, I had never sensed any real danger. The rather farcical efforts made by the police to intimidate us did not seem dangerous. I had not expected to lose my father. But in my nine year old mind I knew that South Africa was governed by people who murdered school-children for refusing to learn a language that was alien to them, and I remember my sister and mother attending Steve Biko's memorial service, and accepting that it was the police who had killed him whilst he was in their custody.
Putting all these things together, I could see the political motives behind my father's killing. He had died for daring to disagree with the government, and for me the man who had pulled the trigger became irrelevant, and I felt that I knew who his killers were.
I would now like to put a face to that killer, in the hope that we can finally close the section of our past. I am afraid I cannot let that killer have forgiveness. I feel that murder is unforgivable. And, although we can perhaps reconcile ourselves to what happened, I think it is very important to remember my father and his life. He was a happy, peaceful man, with a life that he wanted to live. He did not deserve to die as he died. He did not deserve to have that life ended so brutally in front of his two young children.
The night of my father's death has never really left me, and I imagine it will never really will. We all carry these psychological scars and on top of that I have had to live without a father for 18 years. I hate to think of all those things that he has missed in those years. From the release of Nelson Mandela in 1990, to South Africa's first democratic elections, as well as the birth of his first grandchild in 1993, and the fact that he never got to see Monty Python's "Life of Brian", a film I know he would have loved. And that is all I have to say.
CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. --- My mother, Barbara, will speak next.
CHAIRMAN: Barbara, just start when you want to. --- My name is Barbara Follett, I am a British politician, and an academic. And I left South Africa in April 1978, shortly after my first husband was killed.
I married Richard Turner in 1963, and we were divorced in 1971. I am the mother of his two daughters, Jan and Kim.
Before I left South Africa I worked with an organisation known as the Nutrition Corporation of South Africa, Kupegani. I was head of the Women's Movement for Peace, and I was very active in the Black Sash.
Richard and I were subject to the general kind of harassment that people had in those days: telephone tapping, mail opened, being followed. But we came to accept it as part of our lives.
However, this is a human violation, a human rights violations hearing, and I would like to go through briefly how I think our human rights were violated in that time from a person point of view. First and foremost, our rights to privacy. I think his death was probably caused by the violation of this right to privacy.
Fowzia and Kim have told you that the children came up to visit Fowzia and Richard on Boxing Day, 1977. Fowzia was going to go and see my brother in Botswana and I had recently applied for British passports for Jan and Kim.
The British Consul was taking a long time to deliver them, and when the children arrived in Durban Richard called me on December, the 27th, and said they would like to go to Botswana with Fowzia, could I get the
passports. I called the Consul, and we had a succession of calls over the next few days as the Consul tried to speed the passports up.
Finally, on the 30th of December 1977, the Consul told me it wouldn't be possible to get them and I called Richard again. Remember, all of this time while we are talking, people are listening in on the phone, and making connections which aren't necessarily accurate.
On January, the 2nd, Donald Woods escaped. This was very much the chagrin of the then Minister of Justice Kruger, who had had a personal campaign against Richard Turner, and on a far lesser scale against myself. I think that whoever was listening to the phone calls, and we certainly exchanged a couple of phone calls about Donald, began to wonder whether Richard was going to go too. And our attempts to get the passports and Fowzia's leaving on the Friday night, were perhaps the pre-cursor to Richard himself going.
You have heard what happened on the night of - or in the early hours of January, the 8th, but I would like to tell you once again how our privacy was violated. The telephone was cut off, they said it was the rain, but I was woken at about 12.20 by the telephone ringing in my kitchen. I ran to it and I didn't get to it. About 10 minutes later Elona Kleinschmidt phoned me and said there is something terribly wrong in Durban. And I started to pack, I thought Richard had been detained and I would have to come up and get the children, because I knew Fowzia was in Botswana.
At 3.00 am Jan was finally allowed to telephone me.
During this time she and Kim have been locked into their father's bedroom, while the police ran around the house. Those children had watched their father die and had been left alone with a young, inexperienced policeman, who you can't blame because he had no idea what he was doing, but he was brutally rude to them, and frightened them to death. This is not how you treat nine and thirteen year olds.
I submit that their human rights to respect was violated during that hour and a half. Their human right to comfort was violated.
At 3.00 am Jan was allowed to speak to me. When I asked her where her father was, she said, "I am standing over his body". I feel that even under that state, people could have had some respect for what was happening to children at that moment. None was shown.
You can see that this makes me angry. The anger at that kind of human rights violation has fuelled me ever since and continues to fuel me. And it fuels me sitting here.
They deprived Richard Turner of his right to life. They simultaneously deprived South Africa of one of its brightest and best minds. They deprived my children of their father. They deprived Fowzia of a husband. They deprived Jane Turner of a son, and they deprived me of a friend.
I flew up to Durban and Jan and Kim were still in the clothes they had managed to scramble on. Their hair was full of blood and I will never forget the smell of dried blood in my children's hair in the hot Durban sun.
The next day we went to the house and this is where
the next human rights violation occurred, the right to justice. I went into the children's bedroom, where Richard had been shot, and I could see what had happened. He had been standing at the window and he had obviously clutched himself and fallen on the bed and his handprint, he must have done that, and put his hand onto Kim's bed. You could see his handprint in blood on the bed.
I walked over to Jan's bed, because I could see the bullet hole above Kim's bed and I pulled back the covers, and so cursory had the police's investigation of this death been in the hour or two hours that they had been in the house with the children locked in the bedroom, they had not even bothered to pick up the bullet which was still in Jan's bed.
I ... (inaudible)
(END OF SIDE A)
2B/0 (START OF SIDE B)
(Inaudible) ... our right to justice was removed from then on.
His mother, Jane Turner, who is too old now and too frail now to come to this hearing, spent many years trying to find justice, and when I read the notes of her almost daily conversations with the South African CID, with the security police, and with BOSS. I cannot believe that they could treat anyone like that. She trusted, she trusted in a system of justice that wasn't there. A system of justice that we have recently seen deliver freedom to someone who possibly doesn't deserve it, but to those who deserve it, they didn't get it. And on behalf of Jane Turner, I submit that her right to justice and her right to respect was violated by the South African State
in those days.
You have heard about my children's loss. You have heard about his wife's loss. And you all know about the country's loss. I think Richard probably would have counted the loss enough to see the state of South Africa as it is today. You have made enormous strides.
This truth commission is one of the boldest and bravest things that I have ever been or I have ever witnessed, but what I want from it is to ask you to dare further, to dare to find the truth, because it is the truth that will set us free. It is the truth that Richard Turner fought for. And until South Africa finds the truth about its past, it will never truly be free.
South Africa is free now in one way, but until it has the truth about its past, it cannot guarantee that freedom into the future. So, what I want from you is for you to subpoena the people that Fowzia has asked for and that Jan will ask for. And for you to dare to dig and to dare to tell the truth. Thank you.
CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much indeed. Jan?
CHAIRMAN: Again, when you are ready, take your time. We will listen. Thank you. --- My name Jan Turner. Thank you very much for hearing us today.
I am going to talk a little bit about the night my father was killed, and then about my own attempts to find his killer in the years since then.
My sister, Kim, and I were the only people, other than my father, in the house on the night he was killed. She and I were asleep in our bedroom, which was at the front of 32 Dalton Avenue. At around half past midnight, I was woken up by the sound of my father in the hallway adjacent to our room. The house was dark. I heard him asking, "Who's there?". I didn't hear what had prompted him to ask this. I don't know whether it was someone calling to him, or someone making noise on the stoep, or in the driveway outside. He repeated the question, "Who is there?" and received no reply.
Then he walked in the room, where Kim and I were sleeping and went over to the bay window, that faced onto the stoep. From the window he could see who was at the front door, and it was a long-standing habit of his to do this, to check who was outside.
From my bed I saw him pull the curtain aside and look out. Surprise registered clearly on his face, but only momentarily, because a shot was fired and he was hit. At the time I didn't realise it was a shot, I thought a bomb had exploded on the stoep because the bang was deafening and was accompanied by a brilliant flash of light.
I jumped out of my bed and went to help dad. Neither Kim nor I saw or heard anyone or any vehicles outside in the driveway. Whoever fired the shot was standing on the enclosed stoep directly outside the window. The bullet nicked or ricocheted off the burglar bars on the window, and hit my father at very close range. The bullet apparently came from a 9mm pistol. He was standing holding the curtain and the bullet would have come through here, through the top of his arm, through both lungs, and out underneath this arm. It pierced both his lungs, passed straight through his body, and retained enough velocity to hit the wall several metres behind him, and then to ricocheted across the room before landing on my bed.
My father fell on the floor, screaming and writhing in pain, but he managed to get up and to run through the house towards the back door. He may have lost consciousness while he was running, because he hit the wall and then collapsed face down on the floor in the archway between the livingroom and the kitchen.
I ran past him to the back door and shouted for help to Cathy Thompson, who was an American journalist. Cathy died a few years ago of cancer, but then she rented the cottage in our garden with fellow-journalist Dick Usher. Dick was away in Johannesburg that night.
I screamed, "Cathy, come quickly, there has been a bomb". Cathy came up to the house only minutes later, but in the meantime I tried to summon help by dialling the police. For at least five minutes, though it seemed very very much more, neither I nor Cathy could get a dialling tone, the phone line was apparently dead.
After a while, and I don't really know how long a while it was, because it seemed like hours, but it was probably only 10 or 15 minutes, Cathy did manage to dial out. For some reason, the telephone started working again. She called the police and the ambulance, who arrived at least half an hour after my father was shot, but I am not sure of the time.
When they arrived he was already dead. He died probably 20 minutes after he was hit. I had tried during those 20 minutes to talk to him, to ask him who he had seen at the window, what had happened, but he never regained consciousness. I know now when he died, although at the time, because his eyes fluttered and his mouth quivered, I thought he was trying to talk to me, I thought he had regained consciousness, but I know now that that was when he died, and that was about 20 minutes after he was hit.
Ten or fifteen minutes later, some time later, the police and ambulance arrived, and the manner in which they arrived was strange. They didn't use sirens, we didn't hear any sirens.
The first we knew of their presence outside was a loud banging on the door. When we asked who was there, we got no reply. We were terrified at this point, fearing that the killer had returned to hurt us. We shouted again and I remember getting up and Cathy and I running - I myself running towards the door and Cathy screaming at me to get away from the doors and the windows. Shouted again, "Who is it?", and they didn't identify themselves, but after three or four calls to them who was it, they said, "It's the police, open up".
Why did they do that? Why didn't they immediately identify themselves? Why were they so brusque when they did come into the house?
I remember, I think it was a - I think his name was Dan Mathee, or although I may be wrong, he was a big man in plain clothes, who was particularly rude, he grabbed the telephone from my hands as I was trying to call my mother to tell her what had happened, and Kim and I, with Cathy, were then escorted into my father's room, where we were kept and watched by a young and very shaken policeman, who kept on saying he thought it was going to be all right, it was going to be all right, my father would be all right.
Eventually after about an hour of sitting in that room I was allowed to phone my mother. And we managed to contact other people, including Fowzia.
My father's body was taken away in the ambulance, and we too left the house with Lorrie Schlemmer, who summoned by a phone call from Cathy, had come to collect us. When we left 32 Dalton Avenue, the drive and the garden were crammed with cars and police. The house was literally crawling with them, plain-clothes and otherwise. The only person I remember distinctly from that night was Dan Mathee, who wore plain clothes.
In the week after my father's murder, we received several threatening and abusive phone calls at the house. One I remember from a man calling himself "Scorpio". He said things like, "One down, two thousand to go", and, "We should have killed the lot of you".
An informal inquest found that my father was killed
by person or persons unknown, which I guess we could have told them without them having to go to the trouble, but anyway no formal inquest was ever held.
It seems to me more than strange that the Durban Murder and Robbery Unit, a unit with an excellent record of solving crimes, has never come up with even a strong lead, let alone a murderer. It was rare for the killer of a white person in a white neighbourhood in 1978 not to be apprehended. Even more unusual, when the victim was under surveillance, as we know my father had been almost constantly for at least five years.
An ex-BOSS agent, Martin Dolinchek recently pointed out to me that surveillance could be withdrawn and was often withdrawn if necessary.
Was our house under surveillance the night my father was killed, if not, who called it off?
Whoever killed my father did so with extreme efficiency and had the best assistance in covering up their tracks. It seems to me that the only people capable of acting in such a way, were the members or handle-operatives of the then BOSS or security police.
It is important to note that Dad's assassination wasn't isolated. We have heard that just weeks before he was killed, shots were fired at Fatima Meer's house. Fatima had a lucky escape.
Some months after my father's death, Harold Strachan, who was also banned at that time, was confronted by a gunman at his front door. That man fired several shots at Harold. Fortunately Harold is here today to tell the story.
There is obviously a pattern of harassment and
targeting of banned people nationwide, not just in Durban and in the 70s, but throughout the apartheid era.
Those banned people had been so effectively silenced, only their families and close friends and the people watching them, their guardians in BOSS and the security police, would have known they whereabouts and their habits. Banned people were demonized by politicians and within the police.
As ex-policeman, Dirk Coetzee, and Martin Dolinchek, have explained to me, people like my father were not even accorded the dignity of being human, they were communist, terrorist scum. They were literally sitting ducks.
My father seems to have been regarded by the security apparatus as particularly dangerous and irritatingly clever. Jerry Marais and David Davis are two people who have lived to tell the story of detention. Jeanette Curtis is one who didn't live. But all three of them were questioned separately and extensively about my father and his political activities during their detentions in the mid to late 70s.
After their release, both Jerry and Jeanette Curtis came and told my dad of their interrogator's particular interest in him. They seemed to have the impression that he was at the centre of organising opposition to apartheid in Durban at that time, and that he was doing so, so craftily, that they couldn't catch him.
During the week after my father was killed, Leon Mellet, a crime reporter then on one of the Durban newspapers, and now a brigadier, penned several stories suggesting that my father was killed by the ANC, against
whom he had supposedly turned. Details of this alleged betrayal in Mellet's articles were vague. Leon Mellet went from crime reporting to have quite a successful career in the police, apparently he was working for them all along.
Was he working for them in 1978? Who was the source of this story? Did Leon Mellet plant it as part of a deliberate attempt to smear my father and the ANC and to throw yet another spanner in the spokes of the police investigation?
I would like the truth commission to question Leon Mellet about these articles and ask him to explain why he wrote them and whether or not anybody suggested that he write them.
In 1979 David Beeldus(?) and Arnold van der Westhuizen were caught and brought to trial for shooting at the Cape Town home of Colin Eglin.
It transpired that they were "Scorpio", a right-wing terrorist organisation, and the people who had made the telephone calls to us saying, "One down, two thousand to go". During the Cape Town Supreme Court trial, letters written by Beeldus to Van der Westhuizen were shown as evidence. One of the letters made mention of my father's murder and the new elimination squads, which would be active in the future, according to Beeldus.
During their incarceration, Beeldus and Van der Westhuizen fell out. Van der Westhuizen subsequently latched on to Breight Breightenbacht, who was a fellow prisoner in Pretoria. On his release from prison, Breightenbacht reported that Van der Westhuizen once told him that Beeldus had confessed to having murdered Richard
Turner. Van der Westhuizen subsequently confirmed this in a statement to the police, which is now in the murder docket.
I would like Arnold van der Westhuizen questioned and if necessary if he doesn't want to answer those questions, subpoenaed to explain this statement.
I met and interviewed David Beeldus in 1993, when he had already served his sentence for right-wing terrorism, and was living in Vasco in the Cape Flats, outside Cape Town. I located him through the phone book. He agreed to meet me.
He was evasive when I asked him why he had talked about elimination squads in a letter to Van der Westhuizen. He did tell me that in the 70s he was handled by the security police, who paid him, and used him to carry out acts of intimidation and harassment against communists, leftists and anti-apartheid activists. In other words, people like my father.
When I asked him what he knew about my father, he told me that he had never heard of my father until January 1978, until his murder. Later on, however, while illustrating a point about acts of right-wing terror that he had been blamed for, Beeldus produced two scrapbooks. In one of the scrapbooks he kept meticulously organised original press cuttings, dating from the early 70s. There were stories in that book about my father from before February 1973 when he was banned, all the way through to the reports of harassing phone calls received by us after dad was killed in 1978.
The second time we met I asked David Beeldus why he kept this scrapbook on my father. He smiled and said,
"Don't think I'm some kind of psychopath who keeps scrapbooks of all his victims, my dear".
I would like you to ask David Beeldus why he kept those scrapbooks and where he was and what he was doing around the time my father was killed.
My grandmother, Jane Turner, spent a long time trying to trace dad's killer, and she had a lot of trouble talking to a man called Martin Dolinchek. Martin Dolinchek is now in the National Intelligence Agency.
In 1977 he was a BOSS agent in Durban. He interviewed dad in late 1977 and this interview was part of the BOSS security police response to my father's request to have his banning order lifted to enable him to take up a scholarship overseas.
After my father's death, Dolinchek was questioned about it and his firearm taken for ballistics tests. This, as far as I can gather, was part of an internal BOSS investigation into the murder. According to Dolinchek he had been responsible for my father's file amongst others in the last few years of my father's life. I have twice met Dolinchek, both times by arrangement or with the consent of the ANC, to whom he turned after BOSS abandoned him in the wake of the abortive Seychelles coup.
I first met Dolinchek in Zambia in 1993, and there he told me about his meeting with my father in late 1977, which he had secretly tape-recorded. Dolinchek also described to me the little old ladies who were employed to type up the transcripts of the tapes recorded during the years of surveillance of our house, and the bugging of our telephone. He told me how his colleagues, presumably in
BOSS, would slash my father's car tyres and then laughed when they watched his anger at the discovery of this vandalism.
Dolinchek was familiar with the intimate details of our lives. He said he didn't kill my father. I asked him who did and he said that he believed the security police had done it. He told me the same story when we met in June 1995.
I do believe that he did not kill my father, but I don't remember that he doesn't - but I don't believe that Dolinchek doesn't remember the names of colleagues in BOSS at the time. And that he knows nothing and has heard nothing about who killed my father.
According to Dolinchek, my dad was under surveillance by both BOSS and the security police, but it was only after my father's death they discovered this surveillance had been conducted by both of them without each other's knowledge and consent. According to Dolinchek, there was some dispute over whose client my father had been and that BOSS and security police argued over who should have been keeping him under surveillance and which one of them he belonged to.
I would like you to ask Martin Dolinchek about the surveillance that my father was under, and why he thinks that the security police had a hand in my father's murder.
I want the employees and operatives of the then BOSS and security police from the regional and national bureaux in 1977 and 1978, to answer questions put to them by you, regarding my father's death. Amongst those operatives that I and Fowzia and other friends recall my father having repeated dealings with, and who should be
questioned or subpoenaed if they refuse to be questioned, are the following:
* Vic MacPherson, who is now a police colonel working from -in fact, he is an inspector in the police, working from John Vorster Square in Johannesburg;
* Andy Taylor, who is now a police colonel, and I believe on sick leave, in this area;
* Ignatius or Ig Coetzee, then in the security police and now retired;
* Louis Botha, was then a junior officer in the security police in Durban;
* Herman Stadler, who was then a security - who was then a senior officer in the security police and who is now on pension in or near Pretoria. In fact, I can give you his phone number, if you like;
* Frans Steenkamp, then a senior officer in the security apparatus, who is now retired; and
* Basie Smit, who was then a junior officer in Durban.
Those people watched my dad for five years. There is no way that they didn't sit in a bar or at a braaivleis after his murder and talk about who killed him, and if it was one of them, one of them knows.
I would like you to talk to the police, to the murder and robbery investigators who looked into my father's murder, in particular Chris Earl, who was the
warrant-officer from Durban Murder and Robbery in charge of the murder file in 1978. Interestingly enough he went onto Brixton Murder and Robbery, which is a place that seems to have spawned some interesting activity in the 80s. He is now a brigadier in Krugersdorp Murder and Robbery. I met him in '95 and he was adamant that my father's murder was not politically motivated and he told me that he had investigated the killing according to that assumption.
I would like you to question the other Durban Murder and Robbery officers who took statements relating to the murder and who might be able to tell us more about the docket, which is a bundle of red herrings.
There is an incident I would like to describe that was described to me by a man called Ashley Wills, who was an attache at the United States Durban Consulate. He now works at US AID and was based in Brussels when I spoke to him in 1993.
Ashley Wills told me that after my father's death he was at a meeting where Herman Stadler and Frans Steenkamp were present. He enquired about my father's case and the possibility of BOSS or security police involvement. Apparently Stadler and Steenkamp reported to him that the assassination had been an error on the part of an over-zealous civilian who worked with BOSS. They told him that an internal investigation had produced a report showing that there was no evidence of direct BOSS or security police involvement in the murder.
I would like to see copies of those reports, the reports that were made after internal investigations in BOSS and the security police were conducted after my
I would like Herman Stadler and Frans Steenkamp to answer questions and if they refuse to answer questions to be subpoenaed to do so, about that conversation with Ashley Wills and about the internal investigations made into my father's murder.
In 1993, I telephoned Andy Taylor. I asked to meet him, but he said he didn't have time. I reminded him that we had met in the early 70s when he was a junior police officer, who used to come to our house almost weekly. I asked him if he had ever heard anything about who killed my father. He said he and his colleagues had discussed the murder and still wondered who was responsible, but they had never heard a thing. He said it was a great mystery and one he told me he would love to know the outcome of, because it had long puzzled him. I said it seemed unlikely that he had never heard even the slightest rumour about who the killer might be. Taylor then insisted that his brief was black terrorists. He only dealt with blacks he said, which was patently untrue since he had dealt with my father.
I pressed him further and he said finally that, "It might have been one of our guys", I quote, but they kept their noses out of each other's business and so he had no idea who it was. He said he was very sorry but he couldn't help me.
Ex-security policeman Paul Erasmus, who served on Stratcom with Andy Taylor and others, told Fatima Meer last year that he knew who had killed my father. I telephoned Erasmus and he said that he had heard that a security policeman called Andy Taylor killed Ric Turner.
He had heard that Taylor had not done it on specific orders, but knowing that he would be eliminating an irritating problem, he had carried out the hit unilaterally in order to make his mark in the security police.
I asked Erasmus where he had heard this and he couldn't remember specifically, but he was adamant that his hearsay had been discussed more than once at police braais and in bars with colleagues. According to Paul Erasmus and to others like Dirk Coetzee, this was often how information was transmitted within the culture of the security police.
I would like Paul Erasmus to answer questions put to him by you about this reported hearsay.
I spoke recently with Dirk Coetzee, who told me that he is convinced the security police in Durban killed my father. I probably don't need to remind you that Dirk Coetzee and Any Taylor are both charged with the murder of Griffins Mxenge, who was killed just years after dad.
Dirk Coetzee emphasized with no prompting or questioning from me that if one Andy Taylor was in the security police in Durban at the time, then he would certainly have been involved in the operation. It isn't surprising that my father's murder would have been discussed at social events, amongst the community of people who had spent so many years watching his every move, but why is it that the name Andy Taylor has been repeated by several people in several different conversations completely unrelated.
I would like Andy Taylor to explain and answer questions about his activities in Durban during my
father's banning and around the time of his murder.
I would also like to know why Uri Prinsloo, a warrant-officer on Durban Murder and Robbery in charge of my father's murder file in 1993, followed a strange lead all the way to Portugal, and on the basis of no evidence wrote to tell me that he felt satisfied that my father was killed by one Roland Sluggit(?) of Durban, now deceased. Sluggit apparently confessed to a Mrs Nicholson that he had killed my father in revenge for damage done to a lathe in his garage, while my father was renting Sluggit's property in the early 70s. So far none of us know that my father knew or even unwittingly visited Sluggit's house, or even Sluggit not in house.
Why did Uri Prinsloo decide to believe this story? Is it a coincidence that Durban Murder and Robbery repeatedly come up with explanations based on no evidence which point away from a political motive for my father's murder?
I would like Uri Prinsloo and others from Durban Murder and Robbery to answer questions about their investigation.
Up to now all investigations have led us to the wall of silence surrounding BOSS and the security police. The truth and reconciliation commission offers the first hope and probably the last that my father's assassination will be given a full official investigation. I want to know who killed my father and why. I don't expect you to come up with the killer, but I do expect you to try and investigate his murder.
Thank you very much for hearing me.
CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Jan. Before I make my own comments, I am going to ask colleagues if they have any questions for clarification. So, without any further ado let me test that. Dr Mgojo?
DR MGOJO: I had some questions, but I think Jan just covered most of the things I wanted to know, you know. She had done such a lot of homework, which is going to make things easier for the commission, identifying certain people and telling us where they are, what position they are holding, because those were the questions I was going to ask.
I am interested to your mother, your grandmother. Is it your grandmother, Jane, because there is also what is called here the reparation committee, which is interested in doing things like what you call trauma counselling, all such things. Maybe before I ask that question, how is the family traumatized, because we do ask those questions, and if it is traumatized has it had any psychological assistance, etcetera? --- I think we should we all answer that question, because I think we have each - we have each experienced this very particular ways, and I can't say that we've had the same experience of living with my father's murder. I would like to say on behalf of my grandmother, Jane, who we visited this week before coming to the hearings and told her what we would be doing here. She lost her son, her only child, and a son that she adored. She has never recovered from his death. She spent years trying to find out who killed her son, and she was frustrated and felt very alone and very abandoned in that search in the end. She got cancer, from which she has recovered, which is a
sign of her extraordinary strength, but I think she feels very bitter and very angry and very alone in her loss. And in the lack of any attempt to help her get satisfaction by finding a killer. And I think she is still very depressed and I think it would be wonderful if the truth commission could do something for her. Knowing my grandmother as I do, she may not take kindly to it at first, but I think she will really appreciate it.
Thank you very much. And any of you?
KIM TURNER: What can we say about not having a father, it has been terribly difficult, I think we have all borne our scars in our own ways. What quite hurts me is three years ago I had my first child and she has now reached the stage which children ask questions and she said to me once, she said, "Mummies don't have daddies, do they?", because she couldn't understand why I didn't have a daddy. So I had to explain to her why I didn't have a daddy and where he was. And that's terribly difficult to live with, how do you explain ... (inaudible) ...
(END OF CASSETTE)
3A/0 (START OF CASSETTE NO 3)
KIM TURNER: (Inaudible) ... no father, because some man walked up to his house and killed him. I haven't explained that totally to her yet, I don't think I will for a long time, but I am not looking forward to actually having to do that to her, to have to tell her who her grandfather was and why he died, and when that time comes I would like very much to be able to tell her who killed him.
It has been 18 years, and I have had the opportunity to do something about the terrible thing that happened to
my dad and to my sister and I and to all of us, and I think it was a process of being active, of telling my story, of coming here and making a film about it, of meeting my father's friends, of talking to people about him and hearing from them, about the loss not only I experienced but that South Africa experienced, that process for me was enormously helpful and I think it was only then 15 years after his murder that I really began to - that my present was no long overwhelmed and sabotaged by a painful past.
And I think that this commission and your willingness to sit and listen to our stories, and the fact that we are here speaking out our pain as you often admonish us to do, really helps enormously. And I think for me that has been, being able to speak out the pain has enabled me to reconcile with a terrible past. And to be able to be present and without that trauma overshadowing it.
And so I think that the process that you are engaged in and that we are all engaged in is a very important one in the reconciliation aspect of it is crucial. It is therapy in a sense for us to be able to sit here.
So, I think for me the worse pain has gone away because I have been able to talk it out. I hope that this is the last time really that I will have to go into it in detail.
FOWZIA TURNER: I think from what both Jan and Kim have said, you have some idea of what the impact of this night was on all our lives, and from what we have said in our testimonies.
I want to read to you just very briefly something
which he wrote to me, and these are his own words:
"Part of the pain of loss is no longer quite knowing what you have lost."
In losing him, I have lost a past, and I have lost a future. But I have learnt to live with it through the help of my friends, my family and my current husband and my children.
MRS FOLLETT: As Kim and Jan's mother I would like to say something. You don't bring children into the world with the expectation that one day you will have to try to explain to them why their father was murdered. And try to deal with the aftermath of that murder.
Kim has been very marked by it. To this day she can't sleep in a room on the ground floor. I think that he is a huge hole in their lives at every family event: when Jan was married to David; when Kim was married to Richard; when Alexandra was born. Richard is dreadfully missed. You can never replace what was taken away. So, you take away the present as well. Fowzia was right, you take away the past and the future, but you take the present for them. He is always there.
I think that for Jan and here I want to pay tribute to Jan, because without Jan we wouldn't have half the facts of this case. Without Jan a lot of what we do now know, a lot of our need to know would not have been satisfied. Jan's way of dealing with the pain, as she said herself, was to go and find out. And on behalf of my generation, it was my generation and the generation before mine, who were involved in this struggle, our children have had to bear the pain. You can see the pain
of my children today. Let us make sure that their children are spared it.
CHAIRMAN: On behalf of the commission I would like to thank you for being here, for sharing with us and with this audience and with the wider audience, what you have been through and the burden that you have carried. The fact that you have gone to so much trouble and that so many of you are part of this, I think is an enormous tribute to Ric, and reminds us that he is not dead.
I think, secondly, your attribute to him today and your desire to find out the truth reminds us all that one vicious act touches some many people, not just one, but families, children, and children to come. But you have also reminded us that ideas are powerful.
Why they didn't like Richard Turner was not that he was not an activist, because really deeply down he wasn't one. He was much more dangerous. He had ideas and you can't kill an idea. Yes, it is true that bearers of ideas become victims, but their ideas are passed on, and I think one of the greatest encouragements for you and for all of us is that the ideas that he espoused and propagated shared, argued about, debated, have come true.
Yes, we are a very young, weak, struggling democracy. Yes, freedom is limited. But, the pain we have now is not the pain of death, or the dance of death, it birth pain, and Richard Turner and many others were the midwives.
You have asked for us to do certain things. Let me say to Fowzia that obviously personally and in many other ways many of us would like to see that chair. We would
think it is well deserved. This is not entirely within the scope of the commission. We would have to be discussion with the university, but that discussion will take place.
As far as the subpoenas are concerned, and the attempt to find out even so much such a long time after the event, we have already issued subpoenas for:
Colonel Andy Taylor;
Brigadier Chris Earl;
Arnold van der Westhuizen.
We are already in discussion with Paul Erasmus and Martin Dolinchek. And tomorrow Basie Smit, who has already been subpoenaed, will be answering questions at a meeting that I will be at and some of my colleagues in Cape Town.
Now, you will appreciate that it is extraordinary difficult to get to the truth. You have experienced how difficult it is. More than most. We cannot promise that we will find the truth. That we will pursue it, that we can promise.
I personally am very deeply encouraged by the events of this week. Who would have thought that a Commission of Police, a former commissioner of the Police, the head of police in this country, would point a finger publicly at a former minister and a former State President. Now, some of that truth has come about by subpoena. Some of it because people cannot live with themselves any longer and need to tell the truth. There are many ways. I am not at all despairing that we will find the truth, I
simply say we cannot promise that. I actually think that there is an extremely good chance that the truth will be known.
What you do with that truth is up to you. We, in the commission, are working towards reconciliation. We think the truth is absolutely essential if there is to be reconciliation in South Africa. We think your search and your quest and your suffering is a major contribution in that regard, but you would be the first to acknowledge that there are thousands upon thousands of South Africans across the length and breadth of this land whose truth must be known. Our resources are very slim. Our time is limited. We will do what we can.
The commission will stand adjourned for about 20 minutes and we will return at twenty two twelve. We have two more witnesses that we want to hear before 1 o'clock. Thank you.
3B/0 ON RESUMPTION:
CHAIRMAN: Daphne Mnguni, and I will ask her please to come to the witness stand. (Pause) I must apologise for a slight delay. We seem to be missing the interpreters and we simply cannot continue without them. Somebody has gone to fetch them, don't worry. We will probably fire them after that. (Pause)
MACHINE SWITCHED OFF
CHAIRMAN: Right, we seem to be ready and the interpreters.
CHAIRMAN: The first word to you is one of a very warm welcome. You have had quite a long wait, but you tell me that you are ready. --- Yes, I am.
I am very very pleased to see you personally. Tell me who is sitting with you today? --- These are my two daughters.
And their names are? --- My eldest daughter, Hazel, and Cecilia.
Hazel and Cecilia, we would like to welcome you, and thank you very much for being with your mother. This is not an easy thing to do, and - but I want you to very feel very relaxed. You can take a deep breath and know that we really are wanting to hear from you. We are very pleased to see you. Now, Mrs Mnguni, I must ask you to please stand for the oath.
OATH ADMINISTERED AT THIS STAGE
CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. Will you please be
seated. Mrs Mnguni, you are the sister of Mzizi Dube? --- Yes, I am.
Many of us will know that your brother was a household name. --- Yes.
For many many years. He has a very proud record. And you, I know, shared in that together with the whole family, and you are here to tell that story, but you are not going to tell it to me, or to the commission, you are going to tell it to the country, through the media, because it is so important for everybody to know what has happened. And I am going to ask my colleague, Reverend Dr Mgojo, to lead you as you tell your story, but it is your story. Thank you.
DR MGOJO: Good day, Daphne.
CHAIRMAN: You will notice that there are earphones which should be on the seats close to you. Those of you who speak Zulu, you won't need them. Those of you who don't, you will need them. So, I would be very grateful if you would make use of that, so that you can all share in this. If you haven't got earphones and you need them, if you could start signalling around and we will make sure that one of the staff tries to find one for you. Thank you very much. If you could see - if you can see someone who does need them, and share. Thank you.
QUESTIONED BY DR MGOJO:
I was greeting you, Mrs Mnguni, together with your daughters. I also - will you all be talking? --- No, I am the only one who is going to be speaking.
This scares me that I am the one who has got to lead you in evidence, because your brother was my peer, we grew up together. At the time you were staying in
Lamontville, and at that time I was still very young. We were of the same age with your brother, and I am very happy that I am the one who is leading you in evidence. So, I am going to help you with certain questions, up to such time that you are comfortable and you can relate your story. Mzizi Dube is your brother, is that correct? --- Yes, it is correct.
Does he have any children? --- Yes, he has a boy and a girl, Seyathemba and Vuzimusi.
Where are they staying? --- They are staying with their mother in Clermont Extension.
Is their mother separated from their father? --- Yes, they got separated a long time ago.
Was Mzizi a member of the ANC Youth League in 1940? --- Yes, he was still very young at that time, and he was a member of the ANC's league.
Is it correct that when he still at school, he was at Adam's College? --- That is correct, he was at Adam's College.
Do you remember what was happening in 1952? --- I don't remember quite well, besides that he was at Adams. It was the year of the defence campaign and there was quite a little bit of unrest. I was already married at that time, so that's how I don't know what was happening at that time.
When he finished at Adam's College, he went to be a clerk at the Home Affairs offices? --- Yes, that's where he started working. That is where he became politically active, when people were being tortured and stripped of their dignity, he could fight the system.
Is it correct that that is when he started being harassed, and he started being looked after by the police, keeping surveillance on him? --- That is correct.
Is it correct that in 1950 he was involved in quite many campaigns, especially liberation movement? Do you still remember about that movement? --- About the potatoes? There was a certain time where potatoes weren't being eaten, because there were certain irregularities and disagreements as far as potatoes were concerned, as well as ... (inaudible) ...
Do you remember that Mzizi was one of the people who took people's signatures where they were organizing a freedom charter campaign in Izalbelweni(?)? --- Yes, that is correct, I do remember, but I was not actively involved. He used to tell me and relate the stories to me whenever he had come to visit me, as well as my children.
You also remember that at the time there was a boycott of the bottle stores? --- Yes, I do remember that.
When the women were assaulting and beating up people at the beerhalls, so that they wouldn't buy any liquor or drink any liquor? --- Yes, I still do remember that incident.
After the ANC had been banned, the ANC Youth League, do you still remember that Mzizi, your brother, as well as Fred Dube, and Mafozele(?) Mponya(?) went underground in Lamontville? --- I remember that.
Where are they now? --- Fred is in the United
States of America.
And what about Mponya? --- I do not know where Mponya is, he came back, but I don't know his whereabouts at the moment.
Do you still recall that in August 1963 Mzizi was arrested together with his other comrades? --- Yes, I was present at that time when they got arrested by the past regime. I was expectant at that time.
You still remember some of the people who came to arrest him? --- I do not remember their names in particular, but there was one white man who was speaking Zulu just like me, but he did not tell me what his name was, he spoke very fluent Zulu.
How long did they stay? --- I don't remember quite well, because this is a long time since this incident took place, but he is the one who got a lighter sentence. He was given one year imprisonment and others were taken to Robben Island, but he was taken to Kroonstad Prison.
At that time after his release from gaol, what came off from the arrest? --- His telephone was bugged, and you could hear that there was somebody listening to the conversation whenever we were carrying conversation.
Was he harassed by the security branch? --- No, he was harassed but he was not disturbed because he could actually have contact with other comrades, but they were actually keeping surveillance on him.
Is it correct that Mzizi helped many people, as well as Mr Mxenge, the attorney? --- So that they would recruit the youth to go to Umkhonto we Sizwe.
Now, that caused him to be harassed, that is where we are going to start, that is from 1979, tell us what happened and tell us what were the consequences as from 1979. You can relate the story to us. --- In 1979, the community of Lamontville asked Mzizi that he should join the election, because they were electing councillors, and he did actually enter the elections but his name was not chosen, so consequently he was not elected. And I remember at that time I was at home, he came and showed me a voter's roll. And he further proceeded to tell me that in this voter's roll there is something that doesn't gel, that is not procedural and he needed to consult some legal people. And he stayed for the whole night looking at this voter's roll, and he saw certain things that were unprocedural, that were not in accordance with the voting rules, and there were other family members, and in the voter's roll there were nine people which whom we didn't know and we didn't know where they came from. And at that time he told me that he was going to contact some legal people, who would be able to advise them as to what should be done with this voter's roll. He called some other members of the Lamontville community, and drew their attention to the faults that were in the voter's roll. And this came was taken to court. When he got to court he won the case. Then the election had to be redone, that's when he got votes, and he was elected as a councillor. That is where all this started, the harassment and the altercations that followed thereafter, but because he so dearly loved the community, especially the youth in Lamontville. Whenever he had to help them, or he was
called upon to help, he would help. And there were a certain people, when the bus fares went up, and he was one of the people who was fighting this, and they wanted the fares to be lowered. Because the people in Lamontville did not have money and could not afford the fares going up. He felt that whoever could afford taking a bus could do so, but the majority of the community in Lamontville was not able.
How did he help the women, as well as the mothers? --- The women, whose husbands had died, were also being assisted, because the then laws required that if a man dies in the house, the woman can no longer keep the house, and the house had to be given away, and he fought against those rules to help the mothers keep their homes.
Is it correct that at the time in Durban it was very difficult to get a job, and people were being disallowed from staying in the urban areas and they were taken back to the rural areas. --- Yes, he also helped to do with away with this particular law.
Now, when Mzizi in Lamontville was doing whatever he was doing, was he being supported by the community as well as the leaders? --- That is where the whole thing started, because the community was now divided into half, some was very supportive of his actions, but some were not very supportive. It was Mr Gasa.
Just tell us briefly about the relationship between Mr Gasa and your brother? --- At first Mr Gasa is the one who used to come home and ask him that they should work together and cooperate and when Mr Mzizi agreed with him, there were certain aspects on which they disagreed,
but I am not sure what the aspects were, but I could see that there was some problem erupting between the two. And they could not work together properly. And the situation got quite worse, at that time. And I remember that whenever I phoned him, I couldn't get him at home, but on this particular weekend, that is before he died, he died on a Monday, the weekend before the Monday on which he died, I was talking to him and telling him that he must stop these actions. He must stop being a councillor, because he was having problems with Gasa and there were rumours that he was going to be killed.
Even before we go or delve deeper into the situation, just tell us about what happened in 1982? --- I don't remember what happened in 1982, but there was a joint rent action committee.
Do you still remember the bus boycott in 1980? --- Yes, I do, because the fares had gone up. Yes, I do remember that.
Do you remember that your brother as well as the Kranskloof residents started a campaign. What was the name of the campaign? --- It was the Joint Rent Action Committee. Now, it was a similarly campaign, which means we don't have money.
You remember that 18 months elapsed the people had boycotted the buses and they were not boarding the buses? --- I do remember that.
Do you still remember that that made your brother to be in conflict with the taxi drivers? --- (No audible reply)
Is it correct that after some time Mzizi was chosen
or elected as a chairman in the Lamontville committee? What was the main objective of the committee? --- It was to try and bring down the rent hikes on behalf of the community.
Is that what led to another committee in 1983, the one you talked about just now, the Joint Committee? --- (No audible reply)
Now, tell us about the death of Mzizi in April 1983? --- I spoke to him on a Friday. And I was telling him that he should not involve himself with community matters, because I had already heard that he was going to be killed, and what he said to me was that I should pray, because he knew that he was going to be killed. But if they were going to kill him for the truth, I will not have any load on my shoulders. I asked him as to who were we going to be left with, because he was the only one, he was the only son that my mother had. He told me that I should not be bothered because he was doing this for his brothers as well as his sisters.
I can see you lost a very good brother there, I know him very well. (Pause) --- After he said those words to me, I said, "That is fine, you can go on in what you believe in and I am going to pray". We parted on that note and that was the last time we spoke. Then on the following Monday morning, on the 25th of April, my younger daughter was staying with my mother at that time, as well as her children, because they were still very young. She came to fetch me from Lamontville, and she told me that my brother had been killed. I went along to investigate the matter and see how far true that was. I found that a lot
of members of the community were in our yard, and the fact that I hadn't lost alone, but the whole community of Lamontville lost, they were affected, especially the youth which was going to get a lot of education from him, because he so loved the youth. He was actually their leader. As it is today, I feel for the younger generation for those who are still growing, had they given him a chance to live, he could have done a lot for the community at Lamontville.
When he was killed, where was he? --- He got home and he was from a certain meeting. He had earlier announced that there was going to be a meeting, a JRAC meeting. When he got home, according to my mother, he said - he got into the house and told my mother that he had already come, because it was his usual practice that he reports himself that he has come in and everybody should relax and sleep peacefully because he was in the house. Even on that particular day, it happened like that. Then there was a certain boy from the Makhanya family, who had come with him, and he told this Makhanya boy to go back to his home, and this man from the Makhanya family refused to go to his place and said he was scared for my brother's life, but he ultimately went away. And when he got into house he heard some gun fire from my mother's place, and apparently the killers were waiting for him in the yard, and they killed him in the yard. By the time I got to the scene, he had already been taken to the mortuary, but the blood was still there very much visible and they were still wiping the blood.
What was the name of this Makhanya? --- It is
Where does he stay? --- He still stays at the same place, Mbele Street.
What's the number of the house? --- I don't know the number of the house, I am not really sure.
Is it correct that according to your statement when your brother was shot, he had already told them at the meeting that he wanted to resign from the council. Now, what could possibly be the reason for his death, because he had already announced his resignation? --- I think there was some arguments that were going on and some disagreements, but I cannot pinpoint as to what that was in particular.
Now, after your brother had died, just give us a picture of the Lamontville, tell us what happened in Lamontville/Chesterville consequent to your brother's death? --- After my brother's death, the atmosphere changed drastically and there was some unrest, certain children died, and they were killed in some gruesome manner. And there was another one who was very active at that particular point in time, and he wanted people who were aligned to the ANC Youth League to be killed as well as my family. But he was killed before he could actually carry out his plan.
What was his name? --- It was Mhlaba. He owned a taxi in Lamontville.
Was he a councillor? --- No, he was not, but he operated a taxi business.
You said he was also killed? --- Yes, he was killed.
Who killed him? --- I don't know the person's name, but he was killed by a certain person, I am not really sure, I don't want to commit myself and say so and so killed him. I heard when I was at work that he had also been killed.
Now, I am going to help you through the statement, so that we can finish quite quickly. I will just point certain facts to you and you deny or you admit them. The community of Lamontville was very angry and filled with hatred after your brother's death and three more people died, is that correct? --- Yes, that is correct.
These three people were rumoured to be police informers? --- Yes, that's the rumour that I heard.
What were their names? --- I can't tell you their names, I don't know their names.
Now, this unrest stretched up to Chesterville. Why did it stretch to Chesterville, because it was in the Lamontville part? --- I will describe it in this manner, what made it stretch to the area of Chesterville was that at some stage he was an assistant teacher helping teacher Khanyile at that particular school in Chesterville. So, I think that's what actually made it to stretch.
Where is Khanyile now? --- Khanyile is since deceased. He died just before the day he was going to be elected.
Who killed him? --- I don't know who killed him, we were at a certain hall and we heard later on that he had also been killed.
Was Khanyile one of the police informers? ---
Yes. He was one of the people rumoured to be an informer.
(END OF CASSETTE NO 3)
4A/0 (START OF CASSETTE NO 4)
... and he took me to my mother's place, because he regarded me as his eldest sister. They were talking with Mzizi, and he said, "My brother I want you to use the boers, eat the money, but at the end of the day all your actions will catch up with you". And I didn't know what that meant. So, I also suspected that he was a police informer.
After that there was a lot of unrest and boycotts in Lamontville after your brother died. Up to a certain stage where the suspects were ultimately arrested, do you still remember their names? --- One of them was Mr Moonlight Gasa, and all in all there were five, Moonlight Gasa was a mayor, and there was also Ebenezer Maphumulo, Mngadi, and Bangohlaba(?) Mbahule(?), he was the taxi owner and the two others who were the killers. Julius Juja(?) and Vaguthethwa(?) Hlalo(?).
Where in Moonlight Gasa now? --- I heard that Moonlight Gasa has since died. He died, he was - I suspect that he was sick, he had a heart attack whilst he was in prison. The people were arrested. They were found guilty.
What about Ebenezer Maphumulo? --- I don't know whether he is still around, or still alive.
What about Bangohlaba Mbahule? --- (No reply)
Let me help you, I don't blame you, it is quite a long time since this happened, and it is your brother who has died. According to your statement, you said that
Moonlight Gasa as well as Bangohlaba and Mngadi were staying in Lamontville, and they hired the two killers, Vaguthethwa and Julius Juja. They hired them to go and kill your brother, but when the matter was being heard all were arrested as suspects. Gasa was given 12 years, Mbahule - 8, and the other ones were given live sentence. Hlahlo was given death sentence, and Mhlaba, who had orchestrated the whole thing and conspired to kill, he was killed during the trial.
Did you ever hear who killed him? --- No, I've got absolutely no idea.
Where is Mhlaba's family? --- I don't know where they are, I don't know whether they are still staying in Lamontville or not.
After your brother had been killed, is it correct that Lamontville was integrated into Zululand? --- No, that was not successful, because the Lamontville community flatly refused to be part of the KwaZulu region.
You remember what happened in 1984, during the unveiling of Mzizi's tombstone? --- Yes, there were certain people from KwaZulu who came and they said they were looking for - they said they were looking for their King's handkerchief. I don't know whether it was a handskerchief(?), or a headkerchief(?), or a flag.
Who were these people? Just give us a clear indication? --- They were Inkatha members.
How did you see that it was Inkatha? --- They had knobkerries and all sorts of traditional weapons, that's how I identified them. They also had shields.
Now, how did you see that they were Inkatha members? /--- Because
--- Because Zulus do carry knobkerries. We were talking to them personally at the unveiling of the tombstone and they said they were looking for this flag, headkerchief or handkerchief, I am not sure what they were looking for.
How many children were left by Mzizi when he died? --- It is two children, Seyathemba and Vuzimuzi, a boy and a girl.
Who is Patricia Ngcobo? --- Patricia Ngcobo was his fiancee.
Where is she? --- She was also killed very brutally in Hibberdene.
What about the grandchildren? --- Pat was killed, as well as the grandchildren and the caretaker, it is not known even today as to who killed these people.
Was there any inquest that was held with regard to the death of these three people? --- No, there was not any.
How did the death of your brother affect you as a family? --- We went through a lot of trauma and at that time my mother was very old, and my brother was a breadwinner.
Is your mother still alive? --- No, she is no longer alive.
What about Mzizi's children, are they working? --- Yes, they are old now and they are working.
How did this affect him psychologically and mentally? --- The girl was very close to her father, and I believe she is the one who is even more traumatized than the rest. The boy was so very young, but now that
he is grown up, whenever he comes to my place he always tells me that it is so very painful not to have a father, because there is a lot of questions that he would like to ask a father as a boy, and he was not able to do that because he did not have a father.
Now, you have come to the truth commission. What are your expectations from the truth commission, because according to your records the people who killed Mzizi were all arrested and they were found guilty and convicted? What are your expectations from us? --- My request is that if I could get some answers from the words of the killer on the day that he was convicted, he stood up after being convicted and he said he wanted to know as to how he was going to get his money because now he had been convicted, because the government knew about whatever was happening. I will be happy if you could give me an answer, because I would be laid to rest.
If I can hear you, you are saying the people who sent the killer to kill your brother, why did they send him to come and kill your brother? --- Yes, that's what I would like to know.
CHAIRMAN: Do you have any other questions? Mr Lyster?
MR LYSTER: It is not really a question, just an observation that I would like to make, I think it is important to make it.
Earlier on today Dr Boraine was talking about things like banning orders, one of the earlier witnesses, Dr Fatima Meer talked about banning orders, and Dr Boraine said that we forget that people in this country, political activists and other people were subjected to things like
banning orders, where they were refused the ability to communicate openly and ordinarily with their peers and their colleagues and their families. And we tend to forget these sorts of things.
And one of the things that you mentioned in your evidence that your brother - in Lamontville at the time was this process of unemployed people being sent away from the urban areas, and in our new young democracy we tend to forget the sorts of terrible pieces of social engineering that the old government put in place to deal with people. That process was known as section 29 of the Urban Areas Act. And people, black people, who lived in townships like Lamontville and Chesterville had a limited right to live in an urban area, and if they became unemployed for a certain period of time, if they in the government's terms if they lost their usefulness in an urban area, they could be sent away to a rural area that they may never have been to, that they may have never had contact with. They were endorsed out of the urban areas if they became unemployed. And many thousands, thousands and thousands of black South Africans were dealt with in this way.
They lost their jobs in the city and they were endorsed out by the authorities, and many thousands of these people ended up as forced labour on farms in the Eastern Cape and in the Orange Free State.
And many thousands of people suffered in that way. And it is one of the most degrading and hurtful pieces of social engineering that the old government ever implemented. And it is one of the pieces of legislation that your brother fought very bravely against, and
although he is dead, it - we hope it is of some comfort to you that many thousands of people in Lamontville and elsewhere regarded him as a hero. Thank you, Mr Chairman.
CHAIRMAN: Thank you, Mr Lyster. Mama, thank you very much for coming here. Before you go, let me say quite briefly that Mzizi Dube was a community leader and he believed so passionately in what he was doing, he risked his very life, as you know. His commitment was total and he paid the ultimate price. And if I listen to you carefully, and read the words that you gave to us earlier, what you told us that he was fighting for the right of his people, his community. --- Yes.
For their dignity, for their self-respect, for them to be treated as human beings, and to have equal opportunity. --- Yes.
In other words, he fought for a democracy and especially at local government level and one of the miracles that has taken place in this country, is in a very short space of time we have had elections at a central, national, provincial and local government level. The very very things that your brother fought for. And as Richard Lyster has said already, you must have great comfort, you and your family, that the things that he fought for have actually come about, and I really appreciated your words about his love for young people. --- Yes.
And the fact that his presence was missed and that you feel sorry for some of those young people. So, it is a wider family that was affected, yet again. --- Yes,
I wasn't alone in losing my brother.
Yes. --- The whole community of Lamontville lost, they shared the same grief that I did share.
And that's why we want to thank you very especially in coming today. Your grief is not a private one, it is a very public one, and we are glad to share in the memory and the victories that have been achieved. Thank you very much for coming and Go with God. --- Thank you. Keep up the good work. May God bless you all.
CHAIRMAN: The final witness in today's hearings is Mr Harold Strachan, and I will ask him to come forward now, please.
CHAIRMAN: Mr Strachan, welcome. Just before you take the oath, would you let me just say that we really appreciate the fact that you have been sitting here since 9 o'clock. I know that you have participated already in the stories that you have been listening to, because you were part of them, and the experiences you had were not dissimilar. Somebody said it, I think it was Jan Turner, that, "Thank goodness, they missed, that you are at least here alive to tell that story" and I suppose that is true of many many people in South Africa. We are very glad you are here, and we are going to listen to your story with interest, but as you know I have to ask you to take the oath.
OATH ADMINISTERED AT THIS STAGE
CHAIRMAN: Mr Strachan, Mr Dlamini is going to lead you as you tell your story of harassment and attempted assassination, and we wait with keen interest to hear what you have to tell the commission. Thank you.
QUESTIONED BY MR DLAMINI:
CHAIRMAN: Mr Dlamini?
MR DLAMINI: Thank you. --- To be giving evidence I find it very strange to be giving evidence without that nasty feeling that I might just say one wrong word which will get me 10 years in Pretoria Central Prison. It is a good friendly atmosphere.
CHAIRMAN: I am very pleased you feel that way, because
you really are amongst friends, and we want you to open your heart to us. --- Ja.
Without reservation. --- Good.
And/or any consequence.
MR DLAMINI: Thank you, Mr Chairman. Good morning, Mr Strachan. --- Good morning.
Can I check first before we start if there is any from your family and they are present here? --- My daughter was here, but she felt too badly stressed and she went home.
I see. --- It's Fatima Meer's story that she wrote on a little note, "I am taking flak", and she just left. I wanted her here with me.
Mm, okay. Thank you for the time that you have accorded this commission. Your story relates to two attempts on your life. --- Yes.
And I am sure this commission and the audience would like to share your experience. Would you take us through? --- Yes, should I start with the circumstances of the actual attacks? All right.
Yes. --- I should perhaps explain first here our situation at home at the time. We lived in a corrugated wood and iron house, next door was a similar house. We were close to Chapel Street and the premises were long and narrow and they went right through to the next street, East Street. Each house had a double entrance gate at the bottom, though the one next door had been removed, all this is going to be relative - relevant later on. Between the two houses was a small gate which I made in the wall, because we were very friendly with the family next door.
This is the situation. Now, the daughter - the family next door comprised a divorcee with three children. The eldest child, a daughter of 17 or 18, was employed at the police radio centre up on Ridge Road, where the masts are, I think you all know it. And her job there was transcription typist. And amongst other things she used to transcribe stuff for the security police.
It seemed a bit clumsy I thought at the time that they hadn't checked on her address, and that she was living next door to me, but they seemed to find out soon enough, because she there met an exceedingly handsome young constable and they established a relationship and he moved in with her next door. And he had clearly been put there by the security police to watch me. I mean there was never a less arduous police assignment, this was some daughter I tell you. But I knew he was watching me and he knew that I knew this and everybody was happy and the police thought they were getting information about me, I suppose.
But the mother, as I say, was friendly with us and she used to come across often in the evening and have a drink with us. And from time to time, you know, she would drop little snippets and sort of nuggets of gossip and scandal that came over the police radio network, you see. And one of the one evening the mother, Eunice, told us was that there was a hit list out, and that my name was on it. Now, this was shortly after the murder of Ric Turner. And I thought about this, you know, and I thought well maybe, you know, there is actually a security branch hit list that existed. On the other hand, maybe they have picked up information that there is a group somewhere which they
have got this hit list, and it might just have been sort of excitement of the moment after Ric's murder, you see. But in any case, I decided to take no chances, and to arm myself. But I wasn't allowed to own a weapon, because I have a criminal record, but my wife was able to own a weapon, and I went out and bought this very ugly pump gun, a pump action 12 bore shotgun, with 8 shells in the magazine, and I taught myself to use this. You ... (inaudible) ... the use of weapons from a military background.
It was a bit of an embarrassment when people came around, you know, to see this nasty weapon standing about and they used to think, well this guy is a little bit obsessive or something like that. But I made sure that it was always available, you know, and - so the kids would play with this. I remember taking them out into the sugarcane and showing them how violent it actually was, and letting my son actually shoot it, and that's how dire life was at the time. This was stark reality and survival, you know. You know, by the time of Ric's murder, there had been so many murdered and such a lot of death, I mean reports of somebody who had slipped on a cake of soap whilst under interrogation and died of concussion, that sort of stuff. Somebody tripped over a chair and fell out of the 10th floor window of Marshall Plein in Jo'burg, that sort of rubbish, and also I had spent so many months in solitary confinement in Pretoria Central, listening to people getting hanged and that, I wasn't shocked by Ric's death, or anybody's death. I wasn't even shocked by my number coming up on the hit list, you know. And I am still, to this day, ice cold
about death. I was unable to mourn the death of my mother or father, and people find it a bit strange with me, but that's the way it way. If I say I wasn't shocked by Ric's death, I was exceedingly angry that some upstart, you know, sub-standard racist thought he had the right to murder somebody of Ric's substance and stature. So, plenty of anger, but no shock, you see.
If I were to interrupt a little bit, you mentioned that you were on the hit list. --- Yes.
And why would you be a target? --- I don't know. You know, I thought about it, I mean another person - Ric was on the hit list, and there were a couple of names I didn't know. Fatima Meer was on it, and a guy called Morgan Naidoo, and myself. But I knew Morgan Naidoo was, he was a swimmer, and he was active in the movement for non-racial swimming competition, you see, and this is the sort of thing which would seriously irritate, you know, the sort of anti-Indian racist in this country, you know, and the fact that he wanted to get into the swimming pool almost naked with all our white ladies, you know, all that sort of Indian stuff would float off, it's the colour of turmeric and stick on all these women, you see, their breasts, and things. And so that was the level of the racial hatred. I mean - you know, and I was the only MK person who wasn't still in prison, or overseas, and was walking around at large. My banning order had lapsed, the - my house arrest had lapsed after 10 years. The police had their vengeance about that. And if they had needed more vengeance, the security police, you know, they wouldn't have unbanned me. So, I think it was some alone
operator, perhaps the guy that Jan Turner mentioned, you know, who was sort of freelancer working with the security police at that low level, who rather exceeded his own mandate and struck a blow on his own behalf, sort of it. But I don't think I was a sufficient target for assassination, you see, there was nothing to assassinate me for. I was burnt out case. You know, after coming out prison, I mean, surveillance was such, you know, that one's life is totally supervised by the security police.
Would you perhaps agree with me that it was merely because of the fact that you were a member of MK as well as a member of the SACP? --- Oh, it was MK, I think, in particular that would irritate them, you know, a terrorist, you know.
Can you take us to the event in March 1979, where you were in the company of your wife and your son, Joe, what happened on that evening? --- Yes, we were at supper early in the evening. There was a knock at the door. I was sitting with my back to the wall in this diningroom and my wife was sitting at the other end of the table with her back to the door. And in between was my son. There was a knock at the door. She, Maggie, my wife, got up and opened the door and there was this young man stark naked except for his underpants and smeared all over with what oil with a pistol in his hands, which he fired at me, and missed from five paces. Well, I ducked a little and the bullet went straight through the wall, because it was a wood and iron house, and as I say, the walls inside were made of asbestos sheeting. And he turned around - it was an amazing sight, because I have
seen many things exploding in my time, but I have never been in front of something going off like that, and there was quite a beautiful circle of lace like smoke, you know, and he was gone, and I thought, well I said I would be such and such, made a dive for the shotgun, which Maggie had tidied up and put it in the bedroom. By the time I got it he was away, but in rushed the young policeman from next door, called Mike, with he also nude, but for a bath towel around his waist, you see. Now, I will backtrack a little bit and tell you what had happened. This young fellow, Mike, the policeman, a very fastidious man and he had bought himself a very nice little used car, a Ford Escort, or something like that. And that very day he had got himself a set of wheel trims for this car, and he and Wendy, the daughter, had spent the afternoon polishing this car, and he was taking a shower when the mother, Eunice, who was washing dishes in the kitchen and she looked out of the window and called to Mike, "Mike, somebody is stealing your wheel trims". So, he rushed out from his shower with this towel around his waist into the back yard and there saw a car with all the lights off sort of slowly creeping down towards the back gate. As I say, there was no gate on that entrance, creeping away, and there is one thing you should never do when there is any sort of policeman around and tiptoe about in a car with all the lights off. So, he ran down after this thing on his bare feet and as he got to the gate the driver put on the brakes and there was the number illuminated, and he saw that this was a woman driving the car. And at that point he heard the shot next door. He
came straight back, ran through this little gate between the two properties, and into our house, and there he was looking - and I was standing there with a shotgun in my hand and the guy had gone.
There and then he phoned the Durban Traffic Police and within literally two or three minutes he had the name of the owner of the car, the address, everything, tuti. And he then phoned somebody else, which I knew was a security police because he stood to attention as he said, "Ja, majoor", he was talking to some major, he was standing there all nude, and clearly this "majoor" had asked him where he was phoning from, because he blushed from the top of his head right down to his navel. And said, "Well, I am phoning from just down the road", you know, he didn't want them to know he was phoning from my house, you see. And so he reported first to the security police, which is interesting.
Then he phoned the local charge office police office, Mayville, and then the blue lights came and the sirens and the police were in the house and there were reporters and measuring things and taking statements and all that, and cups of coffee.
(END OF SIDE A)
4B/0 (START OF SIDE B)
(Inaudible) ... we were so confused, neither my wife nor my son nor I recognised him at an ID parade we had that very day at lunchtime at the police station, you know, such is the confusion at the time. You know, maybe one's mind doesn't want to recognise the person, I don't know. But it was him all right, and he was tried and acquitted. It was a good judgment, because there was an element of
doubt and it should go to the accused, but he was guilty all right. And he was thereafter extremely vengeful about it all, and my friend, Phil Greenberg, who was a reporter at that time on the Tribune, got a - made a tape of a conversation with this fellow which was quite bizarre. I mean, he was going to follow me to the end of my days, and take vengeance for the fact that his wife and 13 year old daughter didn't speak to him any more and I hadn't apologised to him for the inconvenience I had caused him, you know, and that ... (inaudible) ... really quite loony, but ... (incomplete)
Would you take us to the other incident, the second attempt? --- Yes. Well now the night before judgment was to be given in this trial of Jeffrey Wright, at a quarter to three in the morning my wife and I were asleep in a big double bed at the front of the house, when somebody fired over the gate with an assault rifle, firing fully automatic, and it is a dreadful sound, you know, rat a tat tat. And there was the smell of explosives and the sound of splinters and bits of masonry flying all over and I pushed her out of bed with my foot, you know, she fell on the floor, and I said, "Duck behind the wall", we had one masonry wall in this house, and we hid behind that while the bullets tore through this house. Some of them went right through front to back, you know, and at that time my daughter was sleeping in the front room and my son was sleeping on the little verandah at the back. Some of the rounds passed within half a metre, you know, or 50 centimetres of his head, and one of them could easily have taken him out, you see, but once again the
police were around. I must say, in both of these cases, most of the policemen that came around thought it was something of a joke, you know, they sort of giggled to each other, when one explained one's distress. I was very distressed, especially for my kids. But we were all out in the street. They collected a hand full of doppies and cartridge cases, I think, eight or nine from here and there, there were others lying in the plants, for ballistic tests and we were looking for more out in the road where there I noticed an old club footed milkman, who for years and years been coming around at that time of the morning to deliver milk. And he was standing looking at all this and he said to me, "Are you looking for the people who shot over your wall?", and I said, "Yes", and he said, "They went that way in a green kombi" and nobody thought of asking him when he was just the guy who delivered the milk, you know. But everybody then questioned him and there had apparently been a pale green kombi which they leapt into and driven off in, you see, and it turned out - all this is as I remember being told, so I suppose it is hearsay, but I was told later that down at Morgan Naidoo's place a woman - shortly before the time of the shooting at our house, a woman had been cycling her restless baby on a balcony down in a block of flats in which Morgan Naidoo lived in, and there she saw men arrive also in a pale green kombi, and fire into his flat with a shotgun from such close range that one of the wads from the shell ended up inside his flat and the curtains, I think, were burnt or something like that.
Were you able to get the registration or any
identifying particulars of this kombi? --- No, no, no, but I was asked thereafter to go to Cape Town to give evidence against the trio who had fired at Colin Eglin's flat, and apparently they were the same Scorpio crowd as this lot in the green kombi. I didn't eventually give evidence, it was found to be unnecessary. I think a guy by the name of Van der Westhuizen got 7 years there, but I think it was the same crowd. And I think their attack was a gesture of solidarity for Jeffrey Wright, you see. And he may have been associated with them in some way.
In all these incidents, I believe the family was heavily affected. Do you want to share a little bit of the effect it had on the family? --- It had a very bad effect on my family. I mean in part it was the cause of the collapse of my marriage, you know, you can't really sustain a marriage for too many years under those conditions, you know. And it has had the most devastating effect on my children. My daughter, who was going to come and sit with me here today, when she heard Fatima starting to talk, she sent me a little note saying, "I am taking flak, I have got to go, I will see you later", you know. She is getting shock therapy still to today, you know, and I am sure there are many causes for that, but at least some of them are - go back to this year. My son is finished. He is a total disaster, you know. You know, when the bullets had finished flying past his face, whilst he was eating his supper, and when the whole sort of epoch of living with this ugly shotgun and the talk of violence all the time, and the precautionary measures we took, you know, I fortified that
house like a Rhodesian farmhouse in the bush war, you know. I built up the front verandah. I got a piece of ship's plate from the Bayhead and I welded up a sliding rack, so that, at night, we could slide this piece of steel across the front entrance to the verandah, with great ... (inaudible) ... padlocks at the bottom. I put grenade screens on the windows. I built the garden wall up to two metres and put a great heavy gate there. And at the back verandah door where the shooting had taken place, I had built a screen wall so that nobody could shoot straight into the door and to come in, you would have to walk around this wall and all of that, you know, and we never stood in front of open windows, and it is not good for a kid. And when that ended for him, some six/seven years later, he was due to go to the army now and get some more of it. And he just disappeared. He disappeared into Africa. I don't know how he got across the borders. I mean MK could have learnt a couple of things from him, I dare say, but he would be - he was all over Botswana; Zimbabwe; Malawi, where he really got into smoking "nsangu", dagga, in a serious way. And his life really fell apart, you know. He spent years dogging the army, he just wouldn't respond to their calls, you know, he just vanished. And he would appear every now and then really dishevelled and, you know, his life had become totally meaningless and it is still is. He is unable to work. And, you know, I am sure there are other reasons for this, some of them may be genetic or circumstantial in other ways, but certainly this is very important amongst the things that have damaged him.
Yes, I don't have to say that it is a sad experience and - but one admires your courage and listening to you when you relate one would think that you are talking about somebody else, not you. I just want to pay tribute to that gift you have. --- Thank you.
And perhaps trying to draw to the close, I just want to clarify one thing you mentioned here about Sergeant Ray Skinner, who is not a lieutenant. And you suggested that we should approach him. Is there any specific area where you think perhaps you perhaps might throw some light? --- I am not quite with you?
You mentioned here Sergeant Ray Skinner, of the SAP, who was ... (intervention) --- Oh, yes, yes. Ja, interesting, you see, after that this attack by Jeffrey Wright, I appealed to the police, you know, to give me some sort of protection and they said, no, you know, we don't do that sort of thing, you will have to employ a private security firm to do it, which is ridiculous, you know. But now down the road about a block away was a Sergeant Skinner, SAP. And who was a sort of a policeman's policeman, you know. He wasn't a political man at all. But he used to - I had known him, you know, as a neighbour, but he used to drift around quite often in the evening, you know, with this great Volto(?) revolver strapped to his waist, and he used to come and say, "Well, you know, I have come to see if I can borrow some Asterisk books for my kids" and he would sit and read the Asterisk himself and hang around and drink tea, and he came from the kindness of his heart, I mean, to see if everything was okay, you know. And I used to talk to him about this
and he knew Jeffrey Wright. Jeffrey Wright apparently had done some - because he was a photographer, Ray Skinner, too you see, and he knew Jeffrey Wright through photography and apparently Wright used to do a certain amount of work for the police as a photographer, you see. And he certainly knew Ray Skinner. And it occurred to me that he might be able to give some direction there. Also, it emerged, this is once again hearsay and I got it from journalists, that the real mover in this assassination thing was Jeffery Wright's girlfriend. She was the originator of the plan. Now, she gave evidence in his trial and it was she who gave him the alibi, which got him off, but she might be around, you know. Also, his wife and daughter might be around. It is ironic, you know, I was saying just yesterday to my daughter that Jeffrey Wright's daughter was the same age as Ric Turner's daughter when all this shooting was going on and you could actually write a novel about it, it is so bizarre, and these children involved, and these dreadful events, you know. But the daughter may be available to talk about the circle of friends in which her father moved. Or the wife, or Ray Skinner, or somebody out there, or maybe the Scorpio people, if they are available, could give some direction there.
Yes, thank you. And do you have any specific request or suggestions that you would like to put to the question, by the way of conclusion? --- I would like something to be done for my kids, especially my son, you know. I don't know if there is any sort of grant one can get for him, I mean he is - I know there are many people
more deserving of grants, I mean, who don't even eat food, I mean, you know and who are in worse distress maybe, but he is not going to make it on his own without some sort of support, and I'm, unless the ANC gives me a pension, I won't have one, I won't be able to support him much longer, I am 71 now, you know. And he is quite likely to end up as a hobo in the street, and one day die in the park. You know, what else can one do for him. He is finished.
Thank you, Mr Chairman. I will hand over to you now.
CHAIRMAN: Thank you very much. Dr Mgojo?
DR MGOJO: Just I am sorry to see you like this, Mr Strachan, you used to be one of our heros when we were growing up. One of those few whites here, around here, we adored. Now, if we want to get in touch with Joe, how do we get in touch with Joe? --- I don't think it would be any point in getting in touch with him personally, but I can give you his address, he is staying at a place called Sandhurst, in Curry Road. He has a room there.
You say that your daughter, Susan, is getting shock therapy. --- Yes.
Does she need more than that in terms of psychologists, etcetera? --- Yes, she has had psycho-therapy treatment, and she is relatively okay, I mean she is married, she had got a good husband. She has got a baby and quite a comfortable house. She can manage. But it is my son that I worry about.
What about you? You don't need any type of treatment for trauma? --- No. I don't think so.
And Maggie, where is Maggie? --- She is teaching at Carmel College, at the moment. She is in Durban.
Is she okay, herself? --- I think so, yes, she is okay. Ja, we are a tough couple.
MR LYSTER: Mr Strachan, you have to be tough to endure what you have endured. --- You learn toughness in prison.
Ja. --- In the my first three years in prison, I spent 13 months in solitary in a cell 7 feet square, two metre square, and listening to people getting hanged, as I say, you know. And it puts a bit of steel in one's sole.
Ja, I think that you, of course, joined that struggle very early, a very young man, much sooner than many many others. And you must be still astonished when you think back of those days in prison, and the harassment and the assassination attempts, that with all our growing pains and our problems, we are a very different country from when you first made that statement? --- Oh, yes, look I mean, look, if 20 years ago you'd have told me that we would be sitting here trying to make some sense out of this, the furtive inhumane processes of the apartheid era, I would have said you are hallucinating, really, I mean, it is not possible. I really thought we were going to slide into increasing confrontation, you know, and retribution, and until we ended up with an ongoing civil war that would make the Rhodesian war look like a minor faction fight out there in the hills there and something, and at the end of it, you know, from ... (inaudible) ...
of the economy and the society some strong man would arrive, maybe white, maybe black, and he would say, "If you want peace, follow me" and we would have followed him. And we would have got peace. At what cost? That was the scenario, one could only envisage in 1978. You know there were - you know the triumphant propaganda that came from the ANC mission in exile was that, you know, the arms struggle was slowly inexorably winning, you know, the struggle, but I didn't see much winning going on, you know. The South African Army raided as far as it pleased. They were all over Southern Africa, at its own choice. You know, the populous - the security police had their will of the populous, that was the story, you know, there didn't seem to be any way out.
Any way, it is very helpful to reflect on the journey that we have made, and the journey that lies ahead. I want to thank you very sincerely for coming today and for waiting and sharing with us. You have made a couple of requests, we will certainly try to honour those. And I did mention earlier that at least two of the Scorpio group have been subpoenaed and clearly we will be asking them questions about your own incidences and that of others. Thank you very much indeed. --- Pleasure. Right.
CHAIRMAN: We are about to conclude. I don't want to add very much to so much that has already been said by the witnesses themselves. I do want to underline the devastation that was caused not only on the individuals who were fighting against the system themselves, but on
their families. We have listened with real horror to what can happen when children are deprived and abused in this way. It goes on and on. And I think one of our major problems in South Africa today in terms of crime, in terms of instability, has its roots in the wretched experience of hundreds and thousands of children. I think that's probably one of the toughest things that one has to face. The courage of those who were attacked and even killed is one thing. To visit that upon the children, is another.
The only final concluding comment I want to make and I am hoping I am not going to be misunderstood, but I take that risk, the overwhelming majority of people who have suffered in this country and who have borne the brunt of the resistance are black South Africans. Some times it is not a bad thing to remember that here and there were white people, Indian people, coloured people, who dared to pay the price as well in putting this together. And I think the fact that we had an African woman, a white woman, Indian woman, white man, tell a very similar story, means that in the struggle we were together. Let's hope, as we build the future, we will be together as well. Thank you very much.
This session is now adjourned and will resume at 9 o'clock tomorrow, where, I understand, that tomorrow it is going to be women only and that doesn't mean that men can't come, but they will be the people who were bringing their witnesses will be a group of women, who were directly involved in the struggle. I hope that as many of you as possible will join the commission tomorrow away and thank you again for your attendance. It is very
encouraging. Thank you.
PROCEEDINGS ADJOURNED TO 1996/10/25